Researchers have discovered patterns connecting a person’s health with the type of language they use in their Facebook and Twitter posts.
This interesting study was carried out by scientists at the Penn Social Media and Health Innovation Lab using data collected from patients visiting hospital emergency rooms.
The results showed that there were lots of clues in the social media posts of patients who had later become ill – ranging from obvious messages such as talking about forgetting to take medication, to less obvious posts referring to unhealthy/salty foods. It noticed that changes in language complexity could “suggest cognitive decline” while “a change in the number of words per post or network size might be indicative of a depressed mental status”.
Raina M Merchant, one of the study’s authors, said: “We don’t often think of our social media content as data, but the language we use and the information we post may offer valuable insights into the relationship between our everyday lives and our health.
“Finding ways to effectively harness and mine that data could prove to be a valuable source of information about how and why patients communicate about their health. There is a rich potential to identify health trends both in the general public and at the individual level, create education campaigns and interventions, and much more.”
If you think about it – it is kind of like the modern day/technology equivalent of reading a person’s body language.